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Pesky cat and dog fleas may be a nuisance to your pets but one academic at Stellenbosch University is in search of fleas for a comprehensive study.

Post Doctoral Researcher, Dr Luther van der Mescht, will conduct an in-depth study of the different species found on South African dogs and cats.

The most recent research on the topic was done in the 1970s and new data is needed, he explains.

We're studying the cat flea, which is the most common flea occurring pets in SA and in the rest of the world.

Dr Luther Van Der Mescht, Post-doctoral researcher - Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University

We want to understand how many of these cat fleas are actually present in South Africa and be updated on what is going on.

Dr Luther Van Der Mescht, Post-doctoral researcher - Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University

Dr van der Mescht says the fleas are the main cause of dermatitis in domestic animals and carry disease-causing bacteria that affect both pets and owners.

The expert advises that his research will help with the management of flea-borne disease and the improvement of flea treatment.

A number of animal welfare groups and private veterinarians have already contributed towards the project.

Members of the public who are interested in helping his research can send flea samples collected from their cats and dogs to Dr van der Mescht until the end of April.

Dr van der Mescht says it's best to store the dead insects in a small container of ethanol.

For inquiries about how to do so, contact Dr van der Mescht at luthervdm@sun.ac.za

Listen to him explain his research project on The John Maytham Show:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Dog or cat owner? This academic researcher wants to collect your pet's fleas

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